At the moment, Student Life USyd is completing a series on the search for… happiness, identity, peace and justice.
But I have a question for you, my dear readers, are we searching for suffering?
We’re living in a profoundly new era of modern technological communication. News from across the world can now reach us within seconds, no matter where we are.
And now, probably for the first time in history, we are being bombarded by news of Christians suffering around the world. Recently in the news there’s been coverage on the imprisonment of Miriam Ibrahim in Sudan, church bombings in Pakistan, massacre of Christians in Iraq and slaughter of coptic Christians in Egypt. It’s all making headlines on mainstream media in the Western world.
The world is taking notice of the injustices amongst our brethren. But are we?
Living in suburban Australia where the Bible is readily available in my hand, on my phone and on my computer, it’s easy to think I’m not suffering. I’ve become complacent. Faith in Christ has become an optional extra, not something I’m facing death over. I am not suffering.
But the Bible says I should be.
Jesus said “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first.” (John 15:18 NIV)
And Paul said “If one member suffers, all suffer.” (I Corinthians 12:26 ESV)
So if I answer that I am not suffering, what does that mean?
To paraphrase Biblical archaeologist Ray Vander Laan, if I say that I am not suffering, that means that I do not recognise the members of the Body who are suffering.
It is a very individualistic approach to Christianity to see myself as the only Christian that warrants my concern. The fact that I am not weeping for my persecuted brothers and sisters means that I do not identify with them as members of the same Body. What a dangerous thought.
Paul said that “…in Christ we, though we are many, form one body, and each member belongs to each other.” (Romans 12:5 NIV)
So, we are a body and we are connected via a Central Nervous System (our common vision) that helps us to feel each other’s pain. If I dropped a hammer on my foot, would I say that I do not suffer because it is only the foot that feels this pain? Do I ignore that pain or do I attend to it in the best way I can?
If my foot is in pain, my entire body registers the discomfort.
It should be so in the Body of Christ too.
Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering. Their suffering takes many forms including most obviously, physically. And we who are free from this type of persecution are to strengthen those who are, through our prayers and whatever aid we may administer.
Ignoring the pain does nothing to elevate the pain.
So, I’ll ask again: dear reader, are you searching for suffering?